The Empty Vessel

Pencil on paper, 2007, 100x260cm, Stavanger Kunstmuseum

Sofie Berntsen’s (b. 1968) work encompasses an informal playfulness as well as seriousness, as she shifts between a poetic imagination and a drier, more scientific approach to the themes that she chooses to treat. Formally she alternates between an abstract visual language and a more traditional figurative expression. She works with drawing, painting, collage and installations. Regardless of technique, her work is marked by a meticulous level of precision and is overwhelmingly rich in detail. One can often find references to the visual aesthetics of popular culture such as advertising and graphic design. But Sofie Berntsen also seeks inspiration in the history of art; in particular she seems to be preoccupied with the art of early Modernism.

In the monumental drawing The Empty Vessel the picture plane is divided in three diagonally positioned squares of equal size. These are then decorated with geometrical forms and stylised patterns in different shades of yellow, cyan, magenta and black. Even though the formal language is strictly geometric, and as such seems harmonious and balanced, the splintered forms convey a sense of chaos and dissolution.

OWG